Envision To Partner With Gimbal, Leaders In Proximity-Based Mobile Engagement

Envision announced that it has formed a new partnership with California-based technology company Gimbal, a leading provider of location and proximity-based mobile engagement. This joint partnership will leverage Gimbal's proximity-based technology to work toward improving accessibility for the visually impaired across mass transit networks nationwide.

The Gimbal platform connects users to more meaningful mobile engagements in the physical world, generating content and messaging based not only on users' physical location, but also on their personal preferences.

Envision and Gimbal will work together in onboarding mobile application developers who are focused on building applications and services for the visually impaired and transportation services. The companies will also work with transit authorities and out-of-home advertising providers to deploy beacon networks.

Partnering with Gimbal is the latest development in Envision's strategy to diversify its business operations to ensure steady streams of revenue for its programs and services.

The AFB Accesible Player: A Free, Accessible Video Player from the American Foundation for the Blind

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has made its new, accessible HTML5 embedded video player available as a free download. The AFB Accessible Player makes it easy for people with vision loss to play videos online, something that can be fraught with accessibility challenges.

"People with vision loss need equal access to online videos for school, work, and entertainment," said Crista Earl, director of AFB Web Services. "People who are blind typically use only a keyboard, but many current video players are designed for mouse only, with no way to interact with the controls via the keyboard, Other video players have buttons with unlabeled images, so people using screen readers and people with low vision can't easily fast forward, pause, or rewind the video."

The AFB Accessible Player leverages HTML 5 and cascading style sheets (CSS) to allow low-vision users to take advantage of websites' high-contrast color schemes to select the font sizes and colors they find easiest to read. The controls are labeled with text, so they work with any kind of assistive technology, such as screen-reading software, braille displays and screen-magnification software, as well as a mouse. The video can be expanded to full screen, which is helpful for users with low vision. It can be used either as an embedded YouTube player or as a standard player, and the custom control layout supports both English and Spanish languages. The player also provides fallback options for older browsers. HTML5 is the standard supported by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which provides enhanced functionality for modern websites and helps make the Internet more accessible.

The AFB websites are designed for accessibility, and AFB Tech, the AFB technology division, regularly helps businesses to make their online presence more user friendly for people with disabilities. Initially, the AFB Accessible Player was developed for visitors to the AFB family of websites, but because so many developers are looking for specific solutions to make their websites accessible, AFB made the decision to share the player online.

"This HTML5 player is unlike anything else currently available, and we feel this is a big leap forward for blind and visually impaired users," added Earl.

"As an organization, we are committed to promoting accessibility for people who are blind or visually impaired," said Carl R. Augusto, AFB president and CEO. "We encourage developers to download and use this video player. With more than 20 million Americans living with vision loss, a lot of people could benefit from wide use of this player."

The AFB Accessible Player is available for download free of charge.

Braille Institute Announces 60 Braille Challenge Finalists from US and Canada

The 15th Annual Braille Challenge, the only national reading and writing contest in braille for students who are blind and visually impaired, announced the 2015 finalists. The full list of finalists is available on the Braille Challenge website. The top-scoring 60 finalists, ages 6 to 19, will gather on June 20 for a day of academic competition, camaraderie, and fun at Braille Institute in Los Angeles

Using a device called a Perkins Brailler, #BrailleChallenge finalists will embark on the daylong competition to showcase their skills in five categories: reading comprehension, spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading, and speed and accuracy. Following the competition, winners will be announced at an awards ceremony highlighted by musical performances and celebrity attendees honoring the incredible achievements of the 60 finalists.

"Braille is a crucial tool that opens the doors of literacy and drives educational advancement and future employment opportunities," said Peter Mindnich, President of Braille Institute. "We continue to be inspired each year by the passion and commitment of the students who compete in The Braille Challenge. Their achievements can empower others who are affected by sight loss to develop their braille skills as well."

Sponsored by Braille Institute, The Braille Challenge is an academic competition designed to motivate students and emphasize their study of braille, while rewarding their success with fun-filled, challenging events. This year, regional Braille Challenge events were held at 46 different sites in the US and Canada from January through March. Collectively, more than 1,100 students participated in the regional events.

"This challenge has influenced so many families who have a child or children who are blind or visually impaired. For many participants, this is their only opportunity to truly test their skills against others academically," said Nancy Niebrugge, Associate Vice President of National Programs at Braille Institute.

Of all the literacy issues in America, braille literacy is one of the most underrated and overlooked, and advancements in technology have not replaced the need for children who are blind or visually impaired to learn to read using this vital medium. Understanding how essential braille literacy is for success in the sighted world, Braille Institute developed the two-phase, annual competition as a way to encourage children who are blind and visually impaired to fine tune their braille skills and celebrate their accomplishments.

Pamela Jeter, Ph.D, wins the 2015 Envision-Atwell Award for Research in Low Vision for Yoga Study

Dr. Jeter's research abstract, "Yoga Increases the Sensory Contribution to Balance in Visually Impaired Persons at Risk for Falls," summarized her evaluation of the therapeutic benefits of yoga for individuals who experience balance deficits and psychological distress due to vision loss. This is the seventh annual presentation of the award, named for longtime low-vision research supporter Constance Atwell in recognition of her pivotal role in encouraging high-quality low-vision research while on staff at the National Eye Institute. The award is bestowed upon an Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) presenter who is currently a student, post-doctoral researcher or junior faculty member with less than five years since earning their last professional degree, and includes both a trophy and a $1,000 stipend. Dr. Jeter received the award May 6 during the annual meeting of the Low Vision Research Group in conjunction with the ARVO annual meeting in Denver. Envision University, the educational arm of Envision, the not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of those who are blind and visually impaired, offers year-round and annual programs designed to advance and disseminate knowledge in the field of vision rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Envision University website.

Envision Lifetime Achievement Award in Low Vision Research Presented to Manfred MacKeben, Ph.D.

Dr. MacKeben is a scientist at The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco. His work focuses on researching facts and developing tools to help with the rehabilitation of people with low vision, especially those with macular vision loss. Envision presents the Lifetime Achievement Award from time-to-time to researchers whose careers have been marked by outstanding, creative and important contributions to low vision research. In presenting the award to Dr. MacKeben, the organization acknowledged his expert work in low vision and eccentric viewing research and macular perimetry tests for assessing binocular visual fields. For more information about the Envision Research Institute, visit the Envision website.

Registration Now Open for Envision Conference 2015

Envision University is pleased to invite you to join us this September 9th—12th for the 10th Annual Envision Conference, hosted by the Grand Hyatt Denver. Online registration is open.

Register by June 29, 2015, and take advantage of early bird pricing! Full conference registration includes conference sessions, plenary, breakfasts, lunches, exhibits, Thursday evening reception, and Friday night anniversary celebration event.

Earning continuing education credits at our conference is easy. With more than 90 hours of clinical education and research sessions about low vision offered, you can attend the sessions you want and easily earn the CEs you need.

Freedom Scientific Announces a 90-Day JAWS® and MAGic® License

Freedom Scientific announced recently the expansion of the popular JAWS for Windows Screen Reader 90-day license to include MAGic Screen Magnification Software. When you purchase a timed license for JAWS, the MAGic 90-day license will also be available to download and use. The 90-day period begins when the first product is authorized for use, and the same authorization will work for both JAWS Screen Reader and MAGic Screen Magnification.

After purchase, customers will be given the Activation Code for the 90-day license along with instructions for downloading and installing the software from the Freedom Scientific Downloads page. Once the 90-day period has expired, the product can be reordered for another 90-day license, or a full license can be purchased for continued use of the installed software.

The JAWS and MAGic 90-day license (SKU: 340624-001) is available for purchase from your local Freedom Scientific representative. For more information, please visit the Freedom Scientific website or call Freedom Scientific at 1-727-803-8000. Pricing in the U.S. for the 90-day license is $179.00. Outside the U.S., customers should contact their local Distributor for pricing and availability.

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AccessWorld News